The Toronto Comicon returns to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this March 18th – 20th. On offer are: vendors tables, local and visiting comics artists, celebrity signings and photograph opportunities, and panel discussions. More information can be found at:
After almost three years of not attending a large comic convention, I went to the Toronto Comicon today and walked around. The con is held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, right beside the world famous CN tower, and this is part of a series of shows put on by the Fan Expo group in North America. Their biggest show in Toronto usually comes at the end of the summer (at least pre-Covid, it did), and the show in March is more of a mid-size show. I was set to go to the March show in 2020 but it was just before that show that the Covid dominoes started to fall and every day in the news cycle simply became another installment in the gargantuan social maelstrom that was unfolding. Finally, that March 2020 show had to be cancelled.
The Fan Expo group did put on a smaller show this past Fall but I didn’t feel comfortable going to a con at that time, regardless of whatever protocols may or may not have been in place. However, this Spring I feel the need to break out of my bubble and routine somewhat, so here I am. It was a typical show in terms of what was there: merchandise, old comics, toys, collectibles and knick knacks of different kinds. It felt like a smaller March show than what I was used to before the pandemic. There seemed to be fewer comics guests and fewer attendees. The comic guest in the photo below is Tom Grummett. Two of the comics guests who were supposed to show up and cancelled were Pat Broderick and Jim Shooter. Also, perhaps there weren’t as many celebrities signing autographs. There were certainly happy attendees and a lineup to get in before 10 a.m. in the morning but it didn’t have the same overwhelming eagerness the pre-Covid shows had. I feel that perhaps the old business model of the way shows operated pre-Covid might change permanently going forward; even though the appetite is there for events like these, there is a kind of ethos to these events that seems predicated on a critical mass of attendees surging forward. Maybe we will only know in a year or two whether cons can operate with the vigour they used to.
Perhaps the more subdued nature might be due to the fact that I went in the morning on the first day, a Friday. It is March Break here so there were some parents with their kids and perhaps more showed up later once parents could finish their work shifts? I didn’t see as many people doing cosplay as I usually do (in the past, the upper floors were populated by droves of cosplayers striding around, posing for photos). Once again, this may change during the weekend. All in all, this more relaxed nature made it a little easier to socially distance, or socially distance as much as one could. This did allay my nervousness somewhat and I’m sure that for many fans, they didn’t worry about it (there really is this refrain I keep hearing here about ‘Covid being over’ even though the numbers are starting to rise slightly again due to the Omicron 2.0), but this felt like a very new thing for me, fraught with uncertainty. I didn’t get a chance to attend any panels today as much of the programming seemed very family friendly and I was only able to attend during the morning. I will try to attend again during the weekend if I can, in the hopes of catching a panel and assessing whether the crowds will be different. Here are some photos of different aspects of the con: